Trying to finish my ever-growing list of errands before our Fourth of July festivities, I dragged my two-year old son from the post office to the health food store to the library book drop, all before 11 am. After grabbing a Haupia Latte for me and a hot chocolate for him, at our favorite little coffee house, we pulled into the grocery store parking lot, our final stop for the day. As I parked the car, I looked back at my son in the rearview mirror. He had been so patient with me as I pulled him in and out of his car seat and carried him back and forth from the car that a twinge of guilt pierced me.
It was at this moment that I realized many of our days had been whizzing past like this; me rushing to get everything done while he tagged along, quietly and forgivingly. It made me stop and remember why I had given up my previous life as a full-time elementary school teacher in the first place, to spend as much time with him in his early years as I can. I had fought too long and too hard to even have my child and here I was, letting the business of to-do-lists take that time away.
Even though that Fourth of July morning was rushed, I decided to let him walk from the car to the store (holding my hand, of course). Once inside the store, I allowed him to continue walking, as long as he was close to me. I probably said, “Stay close to Mommy, Son” fifty or so times but he was so cute skipping around the grocery store aisles, I just let him be! We received numerous smiles and a few, “He’s so cute and happy”.
My overjoyed son continued to skip all the way to the pharmacy, over to the milk fridge and back up to the registers - skipping, skipping, skipping! It took us three times as long as it would have had he been in a shopping basket but his enthusiasm and wonder were priceless!
Back outside near our car, there was a small three-step staircase leading from one section of the parking lot to another. He wanted soooo badly to walk up those steps that I suppressed the urge to shuffle him into the car claiming, “Sorry son, we need to hurry home!” and, placing the groceries in the car, I walked him the short distance to the steps. My sweet, inquisitive son spent a good 15 minutes walking up and down those three glorious steps. At one point, he even took a little break, sitting down to ponder life’s existence.
So how does this experience with my son relate to my writing? That day that I slowed down and watched my son enjoy life, I also realized that in my quest to “become a writer” I had begun losing my love of writing. Trying to keep up with my blog and writing for my clients, I found that writing had become a chore - something I had to get done - just another check on my “to-do-list”. No longer was writing a way for me to center myself, to replenish my energy; it was actually draining my spirit.
This realization helped me to step back and spend a few days just doing nothing. One day, I lied on the front porch and did nothing but watch the clouds roll by for twenty whole minutes! Not long in the grand scheme of things but with errands to run and messes to clean, it was a magnificent twenty minutes. I had forgotten how much I enjoy sitting and just doing nothing!
Another day, I sat quietly inside our sliding glass doors and watched my son play on the back patio. He has this little toy school bus that has a movable stop sign. He would pull the stop sign out and say “Stop”, making his toy bus stop, and then push it back in, giving the bus permission to “Go”. I laughed more during this brief reprieve than I had in days.
In slowing down to appreciate my life and my son, I realized that too often I find myself telling him, “Hold on a second, son” or “Just a minute, baby. Let Mommy finish this real quick”. I don’t want my son to grow up feeling like he is second to my writing or house chores or checking emails; I want my son to know he is my number one! So, I’ve made it a priority to stop whatever I am doing, no matter how urgent it might seem, to listen when my son has something to say.
In light of everything that had come to me over the past few days, I had to make a conscious effort to slow my days down and bring more silence into them, more appreciation and attention. Using ideas I had gleaned from the article, “60 Small Ways to Improve Your Life”, I decided to set my phone alarm to ring on the hour every hour, with the exception of my son’s naptime. These hourly alarms served me twofold. On one hand, they were a reminder for my son and me to drink water, another important routine that had fallen victim to my busy schedule. In addition, I included one of the following practices to each alarm:
· breathing exercises
Now, every hour, I am reminded to drink water and sit quietly. And, in these quiet moments, I discovered something else that had gone missing from my days, my love and passion for writing. I realized I no longer write for the sake of writing. So, I took up writing “Morning Pages”, Julia Cameron’s suggestion to write three pages of “longhand, stream of consciousness” writing first thing in the morning. I try to get these pages done before my son wakes up but, if I’m going to be completely honest, some mornings I choose to sleep in, snuggling close to him. Even if I only get to my Morning Pages a few times each week, I am at least rekindling my romance with my first love, writing.
Now, I use my quiet moments throughout the day to remember what I love: my son, my health, my family, my dogs, and my talent for writing. In these quiet moments, I find the inspiration and the insight that had been slipping away from me in the hustle and bustle of life.
Tell me, how do you celebrate your quiet moments? Please share in the comments below.